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Archive for December 23rd, 2011

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on December 23, 2011

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Know Your RPMs: A Field Guide To Minnesota Republican Factionalism

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 23, 2011

(This is the first edition of the Guide. The most recent edition is here.)

As the current Brodkorbian-Kochian phase of the Fall of the House of Sutton unfolds, I thought it might be useful to take a stab at detailing what most local Establishment media journalists, who are either ignorant as paint or fearful of losing their precious access to GOP powerbrokers, have neglected to explain: The existence of the factions that have for years been jockeying for control of the Republican Party of Minnesota and the politicians running under their banners.

This refusal to delineate the factions and agendas of the Minnesota GOP’s most prominent players and their conservative fellow travelers makes for incoherent (as well as flat-out wrong) reporting on the key issues that affect Minnesota. For example as Sally Jo Sorensen of Bluestem Prairie explains, when Tony Sutton claimed in his farewell letter as RPM Chair that shifting responsibility for the recount from the gubernatorial campaign to the party was what the RPM gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer had wanted and not Sutton, no local establishment journalist dared contradict him even though the evidence undermining Sutton’s claims was so obvious Stevie Wonder could have seen it. Ms. Sorensen isn’t afraid to mention who is allied to whom (and who hates whom) here. Understanding this helps to understand Minnesota Republican politics, where the bigwigs in the factions carry more weight than do their stooges in the legislature.

The two main factions in the Minnesota Republican Party are the Sutton/Brodkorb/Seifert faction, and the Emmer/Tea Party/TheoCon faction. There are other, smaller groups that make or break alliances as the need arises, but the Sutton and Emmer factions are the main two to be reckoned with. One of the smaller factions, the anti-gambling CAGE faction led by Annette and Jack Meeks, has been at times allied with, and fought against, both of the big factions; conversely, the pro-gambling faction also has ties to both sides. There are individuals, such as Michael Wigley, with a foot in both camps; he backed Emmer for governor in 2010, but he’s also been close enough to the Suttons and Coopers to be given a now-defunct Baja Sol franchise as part of the Sutton-Cooper efforts to turn Baja Sol into a moneymaker turkey farm capable of providing income to Republican operatives and fellow travelers. And of course there’s the powerful group of Twin-City-suburban and Rochester-area state Senators, the Gang of Four, but their agenda is usually more about preservation of the party and its legislative caucus than anything else.

The Sutton faction is the one that is representative of the party establishment and which is generally backed by the Mr. Burns of Minnesota Republican politics, the Cooper family whose billions come from the TCF financial empire; they also (at least until last week) generally have the backing of the top Republican Senators known to Republican detractors like Sue Jeffers as the “Gang of Four”: Dave Senjem, David Hann, Geoff Michel, and Chris Gerlach. The Emmer faction has among it such marginally-electable Bible-banger folks as Minnesota’s own answer to Rick Santorum, Allen Quist.

Follow me past the jump for a chart, by no means complete, of the players, their factions, their relationships, and their desires. Feel free to tell me about any I missed.
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